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By disbelieving the eternity of hell torments, as being a punishment too cruel and severe for the all-bounteous Creator to inflict upon his erring
By denying the particular Providence of God; esteeming it beneath his glorious Majesty, to inspect their trivial concerns, or to notice each trifling deviation from his law.
By lowering the standard of Christian mo
By supposing the Almighty to be such an one as themselves.
It is the gracious work of the Spirit to convince the world of unbelief, that radical evil from whence grow a thousand branches, each bearing the most deadly fruit. Unbelief threw a shade over the lovely scenes of paradise, and still shrouds the earth with sadness. It bars the gate of heaven, and opens that of hell. Unbelief blinds the eyes of sinners to the dangers which beset them, and the misery which awaits them.
They have eyes and see not, they have ears and hear not. While to their worldly interest they are quick-sighted in the extreme, a thick film covers the eye of their minds when the higher interests of eternity are set before them.
The things of eternity, being invisible, are forgotten, or lightly regarded, while those of time, always appealing to the senses, are ever uppermost in their affections.
They know that death will come, but he is now, as they fondly hope, at a distance from them. Hence they sport with lightsome heart along the
flowery path of pleasure, till the unexpected dart is hurled, which hurries them, with all their unpreparedness, into the presence of their Judge.
"Life, and the scenes that round it rise,
Yet still we hug ourselves with vain presage,
Of pleasures fresh and ever strong,
An active youth, and slow declining age.
"Like a fair prospect still we make
Things future, pleasing forms to take;
There brooks and winding streams appear,
"Farther, fine castles court the eye,
There, wealth and honours we espy ;
Beyond, a huddled mixture fills the stage,
Till the remoter distance shrouds
The plain with hills, those hills with clouds,
“When death alas! perhaps too nigh,
In the next hedge doth skulking lie,
There plants his engines, thence lets fly his dart,
Which, while we ramble without fear,
Will stop us in our full career,
And force us from our airy dreams to part."
Thus vain man, heedless alike of present danger and future evil, neglects the blessings of the Gospel, and with awful madness rushes into the everlasting fire.
Is he warned of his danger? He laughs at the credulity of his advisers. Is he invited to accept the offers of redeeming love? He cannot re
linquish the pleasures of the world. He is willing to run all risks, rather than endure the self-denying requirements of religion. Heaven presents no charms to his vitiated taste. Being earthly, sensual, devilish, his desires are only carnal, and his every step brings him nearer to the pit of
But oh! how great is the change, when the Holy Spirit shines into his heart, and gives him the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Evils are then discovered which before lay hidden and unknown. Boasted virtues are found to be rebel sins; and crimes, committed under soft and tender names, are seen in all their blackness.
Thus Paul, in his state of darkness, considered it meritorious to waste the Church of Christ; but when enlightened by the Spirit of Truth, he saw his zeal to be rebellion, and his persecution murder.
In every age, whether barbarous or refined, the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness.
The most learned in human science, cannot, by the unassisted powers of reason, discover the glory of the cross of Christ. Their lofty minds cannot stoop so low as to receive, in the simplicity of faith, the humiliating truths connected with, and flowing from, the doctrine of the atonement.
This is a path which the vulture's eye hath not seen. Human philosophy cannot perceive the beauty and sublimity of this consecrated way to glory.
But, blessed be God, the poor have the Gospel preached unto them; the poor are made rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom; though never taught to measure distant planets, or to explore with philosophic eye the bowels of the earth. With humble minds they listen to the truth, receive it in faith and love, and through the power of the Holy Ghost, are made holy and happy by it.
David tuned his harp to this delightful subject: Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day; and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted; for thou art the glory of their strength; and in thy favour, our horn shall be exalted; for the Lord is our defence, the Holy One of Israel is our King. Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation, that I may see the good of thy chosen; that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation; that I may glory with thine inheritance."
How triumphant is the power of the cross, which enabled the Apostle to say: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world." No wonder he was anxious to make known to a ruined world, this mystery of grace, which had filled his heart with joy and peace.
It was at the foot of the cross, that he had
learned to despise all human greatness, and to desire, above all things, an interest in the righteousness of his crucified Saviour.
The glory of the cross threw all the glories of the world into the shade. Vanity was inscribed on all its pleasures, its possessions, and its power. Hence, with Christian boldness he assured the Roman converts: "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." He declared also to the believers at Corinth: "We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness, but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."
Deeply impressed with the infinite blessings which flow down from heaven, through Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man, he laboured to impress the hearts of others, that they, like him, might be made partakers of the grace of God. Through the force of Truth, Felix was made to tremble, Agrippa was almost persuaded to be a Christian, and thousands, on the day of Pentecost were pricked to the heart.
What effect has the Gospel had on our hearts? Have we been humbled and changed by it? Has it brought us to Christ, the sinner's only refuge from the wrath to come? Is the world crucified to us, no longer swaying our affections,—and are we crucified to the world, being esteemed worthless for Jesus' sake?
The Almighty said to Abraham, " I will bless thee, and thou shalt be a blessing."